post-weaning anxiety

Making the decision to stop breastfeeding Curious J was not an easy one for me.  Knowing that breastfeeding was giving J much-needed immunities against her ongoing weak lungs and bronchiolitis issues, I felt horrible for even wanting to wean.  But, in the end, I wanted to wean her very badly.  I still can’t quite put my finger on why now was when my inner self wanted to quit.  But, despite how strongly I felt that I should continue nursing for J’s sake, I wanted even more strongly to be done nursing.

And, we’re now definitely done with the breastfeeding.  I’m pretty sure the milk is all gone.  My breasts felt a little … hard and warm yesterday, which surprised me since it had been 12 days since I last nursed J.  However, I suppose it was just my lactation hormones giving their last gasp.  It’s over now.

One of my fears about weaning was that my anxiety issues would come back.  I’ve known that my body loves nursing hormones (and pregnancy hormones).  While I still had some anxiety problems, they were a LOT less, and any anxiety “attacks” I had were less intense than they were when I wasn’t pregnant or nursing.  Well, last night reminded me of that fact when I had a big ol’ anxiety attack as I went to bed.

To be fair, I don’t think the attack was totally the fault of quitting nursing.  I’d had a bad cold for two weeks, and while all I have left is a slightly drippy nose, I don’t think I’ve gotten my strength back after the illness.  I also made the foolish choice of doing a little jogging on Memorial Day, and I really felt it in my already-tired body yesterday.  Even before I got sick, I wasn’t doing great at getting to bed on a regular basis as early as I had hoped to.  And, finally, there’s always some degree of stress in my life, and lately it’s been on the higher end.

So, with all those factors contributing, I had a really lousy day yesterday.  I woke up at 6am, and was unable to get back to sleep.  I had to teach in the morning, which I enjoy, but which also takes a certain amount of energy out of me.  I got a nasty headache on one side of my head by the afternoon that I couldn’t seem to shake.  And I was tired.  SOO tired!  So, JJ bathed the girls last night and got them ready for bed while I took care of the outside watering (which HAD to be done lest my poor plants die!), and did the dishes.  I cannot go to bed without doing the dishes.  I was turning out my light at 9:10, and had even already taken a Valerian in hopes of taking the express train to Dreamland, but no dice.

One of the few nice things about getting anxiety attacks now, after having them off and on for about three years, is that I now know a few things about anxiety attacks: 1) They will end, sooner or later.  2) I will eventually fall asleep, if not tonight, than tomorrow night.  3) This is my body doing it more than my emotions, even though it messes with my emotions and thoughts.

I tried to keep myself as emotionally grounded as I could, at which I wasn’t totally successful by any means.  But, I was … a little successful, and in hindsight, I’m pleased with that.  My nightly devotions that I’ve been reading before bedtime have been proving to be amazing applicable to whatever situation I’ve found myself in that day, and last night was no exception.  So, during my anxiety attack, as much as I could, I tried to picture myself sitting at the foot of the cross, with Jesus next to me with his arm around me, letting me sob into his shoulder.  Trying to keep that mental image was helpful as it blocked out other mental images that tend to crop up when I’m having anxiety, images of “what-ifs” over which I have no control and which probably won’t happen anyway.

And, thanks to some Bach Rescue Sleep Nighttime spray that I took a double dose of around 10:30, I did eventually fall asleep.  I also went in and slept with Lyd last night.  She always asks me to sleep with her every night, and I thought that just having someone next to me in bed and hearing their rhythmic breathing might help me, and it did.  It also allowed me to be a little closer to where Curious J was sleeping, so that I could hear if she would need me in the night, as she’s sick again.  (She’s already on her second cold since I weaned her, and both cold have gone straight to her lungs.  I don’t know if the universe is trying to punish me for weaning the baby or what.  Sigh.)

This morning, in the calmer, more realistic light of the sun, I know that my lack of sleep is probably as much of a factor in my anxiety problems as my weaning is.  So it’s back to committing to getting to bed.  I know, I know, I always say that.  But I have to keep trying!  I can’t give up.  If I fail, I guess I just have to pick myself up and try again.  Sleep might not solve all my anxiety problems, but historically it has made them much easier to handle.

And, after all of this, NOW how do I feel about weaning the baby?  I still don’t know why I so desperately wanted to be done nursing now as opposed to any other time.  I don’t know the answer to that one, but the fact is, the deed is done.  I do know that I did a wonderful, wonderful thing for my daughter by nursing her as long as I did (19.5 months).  Few babies today get nursed that long, and I know that I should spend more of my energy being proud of what I accomplished rather than lamenting that I didn’t accomplish more.  In the end, I’m probably overthinking it all.  I know my Grandma Violet would say I was overthinking it! 🙂  It was actually that thought, the thought of “What Would Grandma Say” that helped me make the final decision to quit nursing.  I know that Grandma would say, “You’re overthinking this.  The baby will be fine.  Don’t worry so much.  The Lord is in control.”

Yup.  No matter what, God is still in control.  No matter what decisions I feel compelled to make, no matter what unwise choices I make, and no matter what things happen to me that are beyond my control, God is still in control.  He is still taking the events of my life and turning them into something good.  He is continually making me into the woman he wants me to be.

Everything is okay.